The days after any holiday, you might step on the scale to a shocking number. Can you seriously be up that much in a mere day or two? Understanding what is happening in your body can help you overcome the post-holiday guilt and even prevent the sabotage of your weight.
The average Thanksgiving meal is packed with sodium. Think gravy, stuffing, seasoning and that marinated vegetable salad. Our bodies respond by retaining extra water in order to maintain a healthy blood level. This is considered water weight, and it’s not necessarily permanent. It usually goes away once we return to our normal eating habits.
Eating lots of carbohydrates stimulates a similar response. Mashed potatoes, dinner rolls and desserts. We often don’t go immediately to a workout right after Thanksgiving dinner, so the carbs that aren’t used immediately are turned into glycogen and stored away for later energy use. The body needs about 3 to 4 grams of water for each gram of glycogen it stores, which explains why we gain water weight.
Even if you’re watching what you eat during the holiday season, weight gain can still sneak up on you through excessive alcohol consumption, which typically occurs at various holiday parties spread out over the holiday season starting with Thanksgiving. When you drink alcohol, your will power is lowered and you are less likely to stick to that diet plan. Alcohol also inhibits the body’s ability to digest food, causing it to sit in the intestines for longer, and reduces the body’s ability to burn fat. Altogether, alcohol makes it easier to gain weight.
Although one day of indulgence probably won’t cause any noticeable physical changes, overeating during the entire holiday season might. Now to find the happy medium of enjoying the holidays for all it has to offer without throwing ourselves completely off track.
HOW TO STAY ON TRACK
Movement helps our body store glycogen and utilize energy more efficiently. When we eeight training and break down muscle fibres, our body is more likely to use all that delicious food to repair and build muscle – spiking your metabolism after the activity is done. Keeping activity up will also help our body deal with water retention by excreting excess fluid weight through sweat. Increase your steps and stay lifting/ moving and your body will thank you. Make fitness a family adventure by going for a walk all together after the meal.
Don’t Go Starving
Contrary to popular belief, skipping meals in order to reduce caloric intake will only make things worse. The hungrier you are going into the meal, the faster you’ll eat and the more you’ll load on your plate. Keep meals and snacks regular during the day, specifically focusing on protein rich foods and veggies to keep judgement up. Don’t forget hydration too! We can easily confuse hunger and thirst. If you aren’t famished, you will be able to take time to acknowledge your food and appreciate the eating process, rather than quickly scarfing it down to fill the void. This will help you eat until you’re satisfied but not until you’re full. When you’re eating mindfully you enjoy it, savour it, and take time to appreciate it.
Butter on the green beans, cheese sauce on the broccoli, gravy on the potatoes, cream in the mashed potatoes, full fat ice cream on the pie. All these added things to the basic food items really pack on the calories and fat punch of the meal – and often are excessive. Ask if there is any way the host can have the sauces, dressings, oil, butter and toppings on the side of the dishes so people can control the amount they put on it.
Watch Your Portions
Thanksgiving tables are bountiful and beautiful displays of traditional family favourites. Before you fill your plate, scan the dinner table and decide what you’re going to choose. Then select reasonable-sized portions of foods you cannot live without. Don’t waste your calories on foods that you can have all year long like dinner rolls and mashed potatoes. Fill your plate with small portions of holiday favourites that only come around once a year so you can enjoy desirable, traditional foods. Skip the seconds, try to resist the temptation to go back for second helpings. Leftovers are much better the next day. It’s not about saying not ever again – just shifting your mind to not now. While each of us has our own favourites, keep in mind that some holiday foods are better choices than others. White turkey meat, plain vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie tend to be the best bets.
As stressful as managing all this food and alcohol is, it’s best that you try not to stress. During the holiday season, people are stressed, and stress can cause people to eat more. Many people gain weight because they eat for the wrong reasons. The stress hormone cortisol makes the body hold onto calories for longer, which may not be conductive to your body comp goals